Raptors I’ve Met This Month (December 2016)

Dec 24, 2016

A male American kestrel scans for prey from its perch at Busch Conservation Area in St. Charles County.

It seems like every time I went out looking for ducks, otters, and other critters this month, I ended up capturing an image of a raptor. In this edition, I’ve assembled a small collection of the hawks, owls, and falcons I’ve encountered this month. The featured image of an American kestrel represents the smallest member of the falcon group. The kestrel is not particularly flashy, but is revered by many as one of the most beautiful birds in Missouri. I have always been intrigued with kestrels and even put kestrel boxes up around the farm in hopes of attracting a nesting pair. Kestrels can be frustrating for photographers because they love to sit on high wires — not the best perch for an appealing image. I caught this one working the bird feeders at the Busch Conservation Area headquarters in Weldon Spring.



An eastern screech owl (rufous morph) bathes in the warm rays of sunrise as it naps after an evening of hunting.

I would love to say that I was hiking deep in the Ozarks when I found this bird but the story isn’t nearly that exciting. Because this screech owl uses the same perch every day along the bluffs of Grafton, Illinois, it has been described and featured on the MoBird Listserve, as well as many Facebook sites. I couldn’t resist heading over to Grafton to see the bird for myself, and I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, I would have been happier had I found it with its eyes wide open and a mouse in its bill, but I was still pretty pleased with the image. The caramel coloring of this individual is about as good as it gets in the screech owl world.



An immature Cooper’s hawk blends into the prairie at B.K. Leach Conservation Area.

I actually was searching for raptors when I found this young Cooper’s hawk at B.K. Leach Conservation Area. My objective for the day was one of the short-eared owls that winter on the area. My buddy, Lynn Schrader, was driving for me that day as we searched the gravel road for owls and harriers. We almost missed this hawk completely, although it was right at the edge of the road, its youthful plumage melting into the prairie. By the way, I do have some short-eared owl images in the bag, but I’m waiting for some better ones to share, perhaps after the holidays.



A pair of red-tailed hawks loaf over the entrance to the Gaddy Wild Bird Garden in Tower Grove Park.

I ran into this pair of red-tailed hawks at the Gaddy Wild Bird Garden in Tower Grove Park a few days ago. I’m working on a feature story for “Missouri Conservationist” about birding in Tower Grove Park, and I needed an image of the entrance sign at the bird garden. This pair of redtails could not have been more disinterested in our presence as we walked right under them.



Joyce and her nephew Alex, exiting the Gaddy Bird Garden. If you look closely over Joyce’s head, you can see the pair of redtails.


So, as you can see, I’ve been rapt with raptors over the last 10 days or so. I hope the trend continues, because who doesn’t love raptors? By the way, I was working on the tractor this morning while a red-shouldered hawk screamed from a tree about 15 meters away from me. I hate to admit, I was too busy (lazy?) to go inside and grab my camera.

Thanks for looking and Merry Christmas!

Danny Brown

Looking forward to hearing from you at:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

View a collection of images and obtain print information at:  www.dannybrownphotography.com



6 comments on “Raptors I’ve Met This Month (December 2016)”

  1. I’m pretty sure I saw a kestrel out my kitchen window last week. At first glance I thought it was a robin, but it was just too big. He sat on a branch for about 15 minutes, long enough for me to grab my binoculars. We have some pretty interesting birds here at lake Sherwood.

  2. Having had a great time with our own raptors yesterday, I loved this post even more than usual.Somehow, there’s a festive feeling when the snowflakes begin to drift across your blog :D.

  3. A well written article and an even better adventure.

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